Published 21 April 2019
The New Mexico Legislature began contemplating whether to license home inspectors in 2011. It wasn’t until April 4 of this year that HB 433, the most recent iteration of the many home inspector licensing bills introduced over the past eight years, was signed into law by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. The Home Inspector Licensing Act takes effect Jan. 1, 2020.
New Mexico is now the 28th state to require the licensing of home inspectors. Prior to passage of the legislation, home inspectors in New Mexico had to meet just two criteria: The first was that they had to be at least 18-years of age so they could legally contract to do the work. The second was to be breathing so they could show up at the job site.
No kidding — that was it.
While most home inspectors learned their trade by attending one of the numerous home inspector schools located throughout the U.S., some practitioners, such as those with prior experience in the building trades industry, relied on their knowledge of general construction practices to assess the physical condition of properties.
Beginning Jan. 1, home inspectors who apply for licenses will have to prove that they are at least 18-years of age, submit fingerprints to be used in connection with state and federal criminal background checks, submit proof of errors and omissions insurance, complete at least 80 hours of classroom training and 80 hours of field training, and pass a national home inspector licensing examination.
The classroom and field training requirements will be waived for current home inspectors who have completed at least one home inspection in each of the 24-months preceding the effective date of the law and have completed at least 100 home inspections during the same period.
In addition, applicants will be required to pay an application fee of at least $250 and a three-year license fee of no less than $1,000. The actual amount of the fees will be set by a five-member licensing board that will be established prior to the effective date of the act. Licenses will be good for three years.
To renew their licenses, inspectors will be required to complete 60 hours of continuing education classes, pass updated criminal background checks, and pay applicable license renewal fees. Unlicensed inspectors who conduct home inspections for a fee are guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of no more than $1,000, a jail term not to exceed one year, or both, for each violation.
A major provision of the law that benefits consumers is that home inspector pre-inspection agreements may no longer contain a provision limiting the inspector’s liability to the amount of the fee charged by the inspector.
Inspectors are also prohibited from performing or offering to perform for an additional fee any repair to a structure on which the home inspector or the home inspector’s company has prepared an inspection report at any time during the twelve months immediately prior to the repair or offer to repair.
An informal survey of more than a dozen Las Cruces area Realtors and home inspectors by this writer revealed that most are in favor of the law because it sets minimum standards for inspectors and, more importantly, provides consumers with a method to file complaints against unethical inspectors.
See you at closing.
Gary Sandler is a full-time Realtor and president of Gary Sandler Inc., Realtors in Las Cruces. He loves to answer questions and can be reached at 575-642-2292 or Gary@GarySandler.com